Vitamin B can reduce risk of mouth cancer

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Eating vegetables that contain vitamin B can reduce the risk of mouth cancer, it has been revealed.

A study conducted by research teams from the Harvard School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Centre monitored 87,000 nurses over a thirty year period; the study found that women who drank a lot of alcohol and had a low intake of folic acid were up to three times more likely to develop mouth cancer than those who drank regularly but had a high intake of folic acid.

Alcohol has already been identified as a major risk factor for mouth cancer; studies have found that people who drink on a regular basis are up to four times more likely to develop mouth cancer; however, this is the first time folic acid intake has been taken into consideration alongside alcohol intake. Alcohol affects the metabolism of folic acid and leads to lower levels of folic acid in the body.

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential for maintaining existing cells and creating new cells; it is particularly important during pregnancy, as it helps to ensure the healthy development of the baby. Folic acid is found in vegetables including asparagus, spinach, beans, lentils and peas and small amounts can be found in broccoli and brussel sprouts; some bread and cereals also have added folic acid.

Dr Nigel Carter, from the British Dental Health Foundation, said the research study provided important evidence about the association between diet and mouth cancer; in recent years the number of cases of mouth cancer has been increasing steadily and the last decade has seen an increase of 40 percent. Dr Carter said that the disease was becoming increasingly prevalent amongst young women as a result of changes in lifestyle habits, including smoking and drinking; the new research could help to reduce this number, as people will be more aware of the benefits of eating a healthy diet, containing plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Diet, along with drinking and smoking, is a risk factor for mouth cancer and experts have urged people to keep an eye on their diet and try to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. A healthy, balanced diet will contribute to good overall health, as well as good oral health.

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